The part of me that is afraid is telling me a story that
says I can’t handle the pain if pain happens.
When Fear cries out, I turn to her with my attention. I coo
to her, coddle her, tell her everything will be alright. I try to calm her.
And, seeing she has my attention, like any bright baby she cries louder. She
demands my full-on love. She rises in power and tells me a story that says I cannot get back to Now from here, so I might as well give in. She acts like
it’s already happened, and I believe her.
Does she notice that I turn to her only with reluctance and
aversion? Does she realize that I am afraid of Fear, that I resent her intrusion
on this moment? Yes. She notices. And she resents me for it, because she’s only
trying to protect me.
So she grows her power more. She tells me a story in
which she and I are one, where her Fear is my Fear and my attention cannot stay
with Now, it must stay with Then, where the Fear was created, so she can
continue to exist, so she can stay strong to protect that part of me that I
created her to protect.
She ruins everything.
But she’s doing her best.
So, the thing I do with Fear is to be kind and firm.
Fear is like a very loyal dog. She will keep that tender
part of me safe, even if it means barking like a maniac at every squirrel that
runs by. But she’s forgotten that I’m the human and she’s the dog. She thinks
she has to run the pack, and it’s beyond her capabilities. She needs to know that
I’m strong now, that I’m ready to lead.
I must be firm. Kind, and Firm. Don’t let her bite me, don’t
let her jump and knock me over, don’t let her growl at my friends. Train her
with love and kindness to protect appropriately, and otherwise, chill out. When
she comes whining for attention at moments I’d rather stay happy, I pet her on
the head and tell her firmly to go lie on her blanket quietly.
At first, it was hard to get her to back off.
It felt like failing when I had to give her the attention it took to lure her
back to her corner, calm her. But over time, the process tightened up, she knew
what to expect, I got more confident in my delivery. Now, I tell her to go to
her corner and Stay! And she does. Because she trusts me to handle whatever
might happen, and to know whether Now is dangerous or wonderful or something in
between. And I trust her – because she's not jumping at every little thing, when she raises her hackles, I pay more attention to
what’s happening Now.
At first it felt like I was going nowhere, but it didn't
matter. That time was going by, and I could either try to train her, or let her
rule my life in the false delusion that she is in charge and I am the trained
animal. Every day, I try.
There are lots of ways to train our Fear, once we know her
for the loving protector she is.